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NOTICE OF DEATH - RON BENNETT (1931 - 2024)

Image from left to right: Sid Taylor, Jerry Entin, Ron Bennett, Jody Scheckter and Kerry Agapiou.

We regret to have to advise Members of the death last Monday 18th March, after a fall at home, of Ron Bennett at the age of 92. He had been an Associate (Mechanic) Member since 1963, having been proposed by the Team Lotus Formula 1 drivers of the time – Trevor Taylor and Jim Clark – an honour of which he was intensely proud.

Born in Belper, Ron was educated at Derby Art School before undergoing his National Service with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers. He soon became a very familiar face around the Pitlanes and Paddocks of the 1960s, initially as chief mechanic for Team Elite which enjoyed a string of successes at Le Mans and in other major sports car races at home and abroad such as the Nurburgring 1000 Ks and the RAC Tourist Trophy. Lotus Elites prepared by Ron won the well-rewarded Index of Thermal Efficiency at Le Mans in 1960 (John Wagstaff/ Tony Marsh) and 1962 (David Hobbs/Frank Gardner) and the 1300 cc class in 1960, 1961 (Bill Allen/Trevor Taylor), 1962,1963 (John Wagstaff/Pat Ferguson) and 1964 (Clive Hunt/John Wagstaff). The fragile-looking Elites were meticulously prepared by Ron’s small team and the fact that they so often finished endurance races in strong positions was testament to the thought and care which had gone into them.

Team Elite ran into financial difficulties in 1964 just as the Elite’s successor, the Type 26 Elan, was beginning to enjoy increasing success. Although the team ran an Elan, it had also acquired one of the very effective Brabham BT8 sports-racing cars. The assets of Team Elite, including the BT8, were acquired by Sid Taylor to whose team Ron moved after a brief period with the Midland Racing Partnership works-supported Lola team. Ron was instrumental in persuading Denny Hulme, one of 1963’s outstanding Formula Junior drivers, to join Sid and immediately the Brabham, still in the white with green stripes livery of Team Elite, proved to be a winner whether in international events with Denny driving or within the UK with Sid himself as its driver.

The 2-litre Brabham was followed by the first of several Lola T70s with which Denny became very much the man to beat in the flourishing Group 7 sports car series in the UK. First the Lola T70 Spider and then later the T70 GT Mk 3 were built up by Ron at the Lola factory, his standards of workmanship so impressing Eric Broadley of Lola that he actively encouraged Ron to build the Sid Taylor cars in the Lola factory. The T70 was succeeded by the T70 Mk 3B which in the hands of Denny Hulme, Brian Redman, Frank Gardner and Andrea de Adamich set the standards in international sports car racing of the late ‘60s.  A particular highlight from many was the third place overall achieved by Andrea de Adamich and Nino Vaccarella in the Gran Premio Mugello in 1969 behind two factory Abarth 2000SPs.

In 1970 Sid turned his attention to single-seaters and acquired a Formula 5000 McLaren M10B with which Peter Gethin won the championship. A year later Ron could be found at the McLaren factory building up an 8.3 litre McLaren M8E for Interserie with which Peter finished second (to Chris Craft’s Ecurie Evergreen example) at the Norisring. Sid also did a deal with BRM to operate its P167 which then proved to be a winner in the hands of Brian Redman. In 1973 Ron engineered the Trojan T101 with which Jody Scheckter shook the establishment and won the US Formula 5000 Championship.

After Sid Taylor joined forces with Teddy Yip and his Theodore Racing team, Ron continued to be very much involved in a variety of single-seater and sports car categories including Formula 1 with Mo Nunn’s Ensign team. Drivers with whom Ron worked included Jacky Ickx, Chris Amon, Clay Regazzoni, Nelson Piquet, Patrick Tambay and Keke Rosberg. After retiring from what must have been a very hectic career travelling the world while looking after a wide variety of different cars, Ron retired around the turn of the century but maintained his involvement by restoring a Maserati 250F for Willie Green.

Ron is survived by his three sons Paul (also a BRDC Associate Member), Mark and Antony, five grandchildren and three great grandchildren. His wife Doreen died in 2003. The BRDC offers its most sincere condolences to Ron’s family.  The funeral will take place on Wednesday 24 April at 1.30pm at Markeaton Crematorium, Markeaton Lane, Mackworth DE22 4NH.  All are welcome but the family have requested no flowers but donations to the British Heart Foundation. 

 

The Club regrets to report on the death of Ray Thackwell who was elected as a BRDC Member in 1957
The Club regrets to report on the death of Denys Rohan who was elected as an Honorary BRDC Member in 2000.
The Club regrets to report on the death of Hugh Chamberlain, who was elected as a BRDC Member in 1988
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